What Water Does

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”
― Loren Eiseley

MosaicSeedhead_LollipopAbove and below: Seedheads covered in ice from freezing rain – the patterns develop as the ice starts to melt away and break up into smaller pieces.


FrostFeathersFrost flowers develop when it is very cold and the air is quite moist. The ones pictured here formed on thin ice at the edge of the river near open water, on a night when the temperature dipped to -25C.
FrostLeafAbove: A tiny branch with phantom ‘leaves’ on a cold winter morning.
Below: A small frost formation on a window. WindowFrostFormations2

CandleIce4The Ottawa River shifting through the seasons.

Rapids1I sometimes find it difficult to shift my visual thinking/creativity away from the winter landscape in the spring. For me it holds a bit of magic like no other season. The key to these transformations is water. From raindrops to snowflakes, to ice and frost, is there anything with more imagination than water?

The landscape is mostly shades of brown now with small bits of green trying to emerge through the damp earth. The river has lost its ice. Most of the photographs here have been posted on these pages before, some even from the previous winter, so I guess this is a bit of a recap (or an ice cap), but together they attempt to illustrate, and to let go of, the season that has just passed.

Also, on Monday April 22nd it will be Earth Day! In 2013 the focus is on climate change and how it is impacting people, creatures and environments the world over. You can learn more (and participate) by going to the Earth Day website. It is our collective voices and actions that make changes.

What are your plans for Earth Day?



© Karen McRae, 2013

78 thoughts on “What Water Does

  1. All those photos in the collection are nothing but astonishing, both as the phenomena in the nature’s creation and the effort of Karen to capture them.
    The scientists must be astonished and puzzled with them even more 🙂

    Technically, I most puzzled by the 10th photo —– have you used with
    tilting lens ? or managed with small F-aperture alone ?

    1. Thank you Yoshizen, I imagine the scientists have it figured out but it still seems kind of magic. : ) Your comments are very kind.

      I did not use a tilt shift lens for #10 (I wish I had one!) and the aperture was f3.5.

  2. As usual, awesome stuff. I would love to have the opportunity to shoot some of those ice formations . . . I suppose we would need lots of water for that.

  3. Wow Karen. Your Recap on the rocks is absolutely fabulous!
    I keep going back to the frozen seeds. Those patterns… reminds me of tortoise shells.
    On Earth Day I will be on the beach, doing my daily comb, dragging along a big garbage bag (I will bring a bigger bag on ED). Perhaps I’ll get to see baby turtles. There’s a big turtle nest on the beach right now. Exiting!!
    Have a wonderful weekend Karen.

  4. I can’t imagine what -25 degrees feels like!
    Great set here, Karen, look at all the wonderful things that water can do!
    Look at all the wonderful things that you can do with water and your camera!

  5. What a Magical world!?! You are almost making me happy it will snow tomorrow and even made me forget what a long winter this was (for a moment)! Thank you for the inspiration.

  6. There is no doubt that nature produces incredibly beautiful things. But I think the magic is in your hands, combined with your knowledge and skill. I have seen thousands of photos, but none come close to those you capture and produce. Every post is more amazing than the last!

  7. your photographs usually leave me in a dreamy state but these ones are extraordinary for the purpose! the first two somehow remind me of the ‘aliens’ – one of my favorite cinematic worlds. there’s something about the texture and transparency that almost looks like the objects have been organically engineered!

  8. A magical recapitualtion Karen. I’ve just been sharing these images with friend I have staying and he was blown away by them as we all are. Fabulous work. We had a very, very cold March/April and it is only really in the last few days that the landscape here has been coming alive. It’s very late but nature sure is making up for it.. 🙂

  9. I had to savor these so revisited the post a couple of times. You seem to have the ability to study and extend your examination of the water and see something new each time. And then your viewers see it as you do which sounds simple but isn’t. I have seen a lot of photos on wordpress and yours engage my attention very deeply.

  10. Karen, water is a fantastic medium but you bring out its soul it’s shapes, forms & states. Thanks for this wonderful picture-essay!

  11. You ask us “What are your plans for Earth Day? ” I am a bit puzzled. Earth Day 2013: The Face of Climate Change. We always think that we do enough, but do we really? Not use the internet so often? Make some greeting cards from waste paper? Or just looking at the things which are in front of our house, the raindrops on a plant? I will think about it. Thanks for asking, Karen!

  12. Even before I read that you sometimes find it hard to shift from winter to spring in your visual mind, I was thinking that might be the case, because you translate winter like no one I have ever seen. You have such a fine gift for investigating, photographing and then bringing the winter world to other people. I have looked closely at nature all my life – very closely – but I had no idea about the ice patterns in the first two shots. I like that you covered the spectrum here from river landscapes macros, but all with that sombre palette. Maybe except for the last – that one, with brighter colors and watery sparkles, speaks of the transition into spring. This is just very, very beautiful. Makes one take a deep breath…

  13. What exquisitely beautiful…extraordinary imagery. What a wonderful commemoration and way to honor earth day!

  14. All of these photographs are wonderful and very precious. But, especially I like the second photograph…I have never seen a pattern of the ice. Great shot, Karen.

  15. It’s indeed, amazing what water can do. And you are an attentive, compassionate observers. This exquisite collection proves it without a doubt.

  16. Oh, how can you ever feel blue for long when you look at nature in all its glorious form – this is such a stunning collection Karen. The third one down particularly. Wonderful.

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